Higher Ed conference committee meets

Lawmakers did not discuss major funding provisions for the University of Minnesota.

The 10-person conference committee made up of members of the House and Senate higher education finance committees met for the first time Wednesday, comparing the differences between certain provisions in the respective higher education bills. The committee must craft a singular bill that will go before the House and Senate for passage before going to Gov. Tim Pawlenty . The bills differ greatly, especially their funding provisions. The House bill uses $361.8 million in federal stimulus funds to make up for cuts in state support âÄî more than double what the Senate uses. Some of the debate at the meeting focused on funding provisions for the state grant program, including tuition maximums, and living and miscellaneous expenses. The conference committee also formally agreed to approve provisions in the two bills that used the same language, such as requiring the Office of Higher Education to report to the Legislature on implementation of certain textbook limitations required by federal law. Lawmakers did not discuss major funding provisions for the University of Minnesota. Under Legislature deadlines, the conference committee must pass its higher education bill by May 7. âÄîDevin Henry is a senior staff reporter.